How Consumers Find You

Marketing can be more disorienting than ever before. There are old and new types of media, trends coming and going by the day, more competition than before, and professionals claiming giving out watered down information at seminars. So, for our recent Lake Chamber Morning Connections session, we wanted to cut out the middleman and go straight to the consumers.  We pulled together a panel of people ranging from 20-70 years old and asked them, “what gets your attention?” and summarized their responses for you!

Quality over quantity

Our panelists unanimously agreed: Don’t bombard your audience with social media posts. Keep messages direct, eye catching and relevant. Over-advertising makes the business look desperate and untrained. We’re in the age of information, don’t add to the clutter, stand out against it when necessary. Sometimes less is more, it shows that your business has something important to say when it does advertise.

This goes alongside with identifying your target audience. Who are the people most likely to be buying your product? If you’re marketing toward community members, go to local events, stay involved and angle your sales and messages toward relevant topics. Before reaching deep outside your target audience, capture the one that’s most likely to be interested.

If you’re going to make an app, make it worthwhile

As our oldest panelist, Bob Moffat said: “Apps are easier than ever to write, but I don’t want to download something unless it has something I want.”

True across every participant we had: Apps can waste a lot of time, so don’t push one on your customers if it’s just a sleeker version of your website. Offer exclusive coupons, relevant reward systems, and consistent upgrades. Starbucks does this incredibly well, pulling in customers with free drinks and an eye-catching star system.

Apps are an extra hurdle that your audience will have to jump through when they’re judging your business. A nice looking and easy to navigate mobile website can be just as, if not more effective.

We all Google, we all look at reviews

No matter who you’re marketing toward, get your business a Google listing. When people are new to an area or seeking something, in particular, they’re most likely to turn to a Google search. Google loves working with new businesses and make the process incredibly easy. They even call it “The best 10 minutes you can spend on your business today.”

Similarly, make sure to Google your own business. Look at what people are saying on Yelp or similar sites, see how you can improve. Consumers value those little stars next to your name. Our panelist and avid traveler, Chip Wiesel spoke on this.

“After a lot of traveling, I’ve made it a point to only go to places with 4/5 stars. It has saved me so many times over the years,” said Wiesel.

Also, please, please make your website mobile friendly. All of our tech-savvy panelists (and myself) noted that a non-mobile friendly website was likely to make them click away and find another option.

Younger people look toward their elders for trade service recommendations  

If you’re in landscaping, HVAC, plumbing or any of the major trade professions, aim your market sights a bit higher. According to our youngest panelist Natalie Reed, she and all her friends go straight to their elders when it comes to these services.

“We don’t know much about these services, so it’s natural that we go right to our parents for advice about landscaping or insurance,” said Reed. “I’m much more likely to ask for advice on a business like that compared to other businesses.”

So what can you do as a business to get the parents’ attention? Show up on time, do your job and be efficient everyone over 30 echoed.

“I don’t want someone telling me that they’ll be at my house sometime between 8-12. I have kids, I have places to be,” our panelist Shelley Sprang said.

Word of mouth trumps all

After our meeting was over, people began sharing stories about asking janitors, car salesman and other locals where the best local spots were and being blown away with their recommendations.

Anyone who comes into your business could be that special patron who recommends you to all their friends, so treat them like it! Good customer service brings loyalty with it.

We would like to thank all of our panelists for helping us with this event: Natalie Reed, Seth Marana of Ramsburg Insurance, Shelley Sprang of Pegasus Farm, Chip Weisel of Hartville Health and Wellness and retiree Bob Moffat.

A Young Person’s Perspective on Lake Township

I have lived in Hartville/Lake Township my entire life and I, like many of my peers, swore one day making my way to other areas of the country and out of this little midwestern town. When College came around, I chose to go as close to the edge of the state as possible in an attempt to help myself become acclimated with the distance I would put between myself and home one day. What moving away taught me was to make yourself as Sam Tornow internship photomarketable as possible for your career and to create your own opportunities, but never being so prideful as to never ask for guidance. Through that ideology, and with the help of lucky connections, I found myself with the chance to intern at the Lake Township Chamber of Commerce this winter, and now with it coming to end, I can say with confidence that my view on this town has changed in more ways than one.

For those of you who don’t know what a Chamber of Commerce is, it is a business network and non-profit organization that has the aim of promoting and helping local businesses grow. I could go on and on about how much I learned related to my journalism major, but that is not the most important thing I took away. Yes, I did write a lot of blog posts. Yes, I helped manage multiple social media accounts. Yes, I attended meetings. Yes, I learned fantastic marketing and social techniques. Yes, I made more phone calls than my introverted self would of hoped. Yes, I learned how to make those phone calls less painful. Yes, I networked and gained references from some amazing people. But what this internship taught me most about, was a sense of community.

Lake Township is a small, but mighty township. It’s not hard to miss on the map or to drive by on a roadtrip, but to us, it is home. However, I am not deaf to the comments my friends, peers and even myself (not anymore) make about it, and the conversation which always unfolds:

  • “I’m bored, there is nothing to do around here.”
  • “We’ve done everything around here.”
  • “Everything fun is at least a 20 minute drive.”
  • “That’s way too far.”
  • “Let’s just go watch a scary movie in someone’s basement.”

board of directors 2015 holiday board meeting at quails coveyThis constant conversation is ludicrous. There is plenty to do in Lake Township, however people have to be willing to look and open their eyes to new possibilities. Remember when the Flea Market was on the corner of Market and 619? That was when there was less to do around here. While I have nothing against poor quality horror films (trust me, I’ve seen more than I care to admit), and there is nothing with wrong with finding things to do outside of the community occasionally, there is much more to this town. In my time at the Chamber, I have had the opportunity to connect with businesses that I didn’t even know existed, or have been around for years, but I never tried out. I could write a list or make a flowchart of neat things to do in a 15 mile radius, but all that would do is send every reader into information overload and leave them with nothing but a list of businesses, which they would ultimately never glance at again. Rather, I challenge you all to explore your town and begin thinking locally.

The most common problem I see, is the willingness to write off local businesses in favor of those in other townships. Why drive to out of the township connect with us image for cc social mediafor a cup of coffee when we have plenty of great coffee shops in town? Why scour the state for thrift shops when your town has a massive list of them? Why drive nearly an hour to go to a park when we have multiple (I know you all haven’t been to them all)? I am not saying you shouldn’t take advantage of all the state has to offer, but the fact is, if you spend $1.00 at a business in Lake Township, $0.68 will be put back into the local economy, if you spend the same amount in a different township, it is doing nothing to help this area continue to grow. That is staggering. Even in the last 19 years, Lake Township has grown immensely. You can continue to make this town bigger and better, but you need to invest in it first.

DHV map jpegLake Township has multiple hidden gems. I know most of my peers have an itch for exploration, but why not explore the place you live and find out what it truly has to offer?  The Chamber offers resources such as their blogs, Facebook pages, community calendar of events and their tourism website named Discover Hartville, which is dedicated to showcasing our area assets. The site also includes a downloadable map which helps tourists and locals navigate our area with ease.

I, like many of peers, swore to eventually get away from this community. The Chamber has not changed that, I still want to see the world. However, no city started as the behemoth it is today. It started as a small town like Hartville, Uniontown or Greentown. No matter where you travel, no matter where you wander, no matter if you stay or go, this place will always be your home, and we should treat it as such.

-Sam Tornow

3 Reasons Your Small Business Needs an Online Presence

A recent study conducted by Verisign discovered a sad majority of small businesses don’t realize the benefits of having a great online presence. Many times the business lacks the technical know-how to develop a web presence, while others fear that it’s just not affordable. But the truth, backed by this research, is that those implementing it are experiencing formidable profits – and with little cost, effort or upkeep.

It was also discovered the small businesses that do take advantage of online resources elect for social media instead of their own internet space. And those with e-commerce ability choose to establish themselves on sites such as eBay and Etsy. Though these avenues are tempting because of ease of use, small business owners are missing out on the value of possessing their own website.

online presence

1. Great Online Business Presence Builds Trust

A Weebly survey found 56% of consumers would not trust a business without a website. Developing a great online presence goes beyond purchasing a domain name and posting a picture of your business with contact information. It should reflect a digital version of your business. Establishing your small business online heightens credibility. Those potential customers who check you out online and find a well maintained website will see you as an expert instead of an amateur mom-and-pop shop. Giving potential customers a positive impression of your business makes future sales more likely. Also, having branded email that advertises your company’s domain name boosts customer trust and business credibility, making you appear as a legitimate business.

2. Online Presence Builds a Greater Clientele.

With web-influenced predicted sales reaching $1.409 trillion in 2014, those without an online presence are at a clear disadvantage. Avoiding this crucial marketing avenue is like saying, “I don’t need any new business.” Even if you are already a well-established business, coupling that with an awesome online presence will set you apart. Your company’s website is not limited to the address at which your business stands. Your online presence stretches to the ends of the earth, reaching potential customers that word-of-mouth and newspaper ads never could.

3. Great Online Business Presence Makes Marketing Easier

No matter what your message is, why you are communicating it, or what it may look like, you will be unable to engage with customers without relevant technology. If you allow your website to work for you, potential buyers won’t feel pressured by a salesman. Posting great descriptions of your products or services online lets the customer make relaxed decisions. Online marketing is also faster and more cost-effective than conventional printing and mailing, as it reaches a wider audience in less time. Remember that online, special preference is given to local business so take advantage of the opportunity to out-do big business competitors.

Verisign also found that prior to the creation of websites, the greatest perceived inhibitor of small businesses was lack of technical knowledge and cost to develop the site. However, after developing a website, only 8% of small business respondents found the cost to develop their website as a real barrier and technical know-how concern decreased from 45% to just 22%. Even though small business owners expressed several perceived and actual barriers to developing their own website, more than three-fourths said they would recommend investment in a website to other small businesses, concluding that the value of having one’s own website outweighs all feared or actual barriers. Some other obstacles included investment of time, security and ongoing website maintenance. Finding a website design and development company you can trust will ease those concerns. 21st Web Designs offers a free sit-down consultation at which we will explain how affordable and easy it is to implement your own small business online presence.

 

Marie Thompson 21st Web Designs

, Copywriter

Marie serves as the Copywriter, Co-founder and Client Accounts Manager of 21st Web Designs, an Akron Canton, Ohio website design and development company for small business that strives to end the cycle of poverty through a portion of our profits.

 

7 Years Later, the Reasons I Didn’t Change the Mission of the Lake Township Chamber

May 1, 2007.

When I walked in the door of the Lake Township Chamber of Commerce my first day I didn’t know that I had just joined a business community like no other.

Fast forward to today:  May 1, 2014.

I still walk in that door every day and thank my lucky stars I am a part of that business community that is like no other.

If you know me well, you have figured out by now that milestones, anniversaries, birthdays, etc. are all a pretty big deal to me.  For me, they serve as benchmarks, times to reflect, and of course, a reason to have some cake and celebrate.

Today, I’m celebrating the opportunity that was presented to me on May 1, 2007 to join this community and be a part of its Chamber of Commerce with the mission at right–our mission 500

That mission statement isn’t just words on paper to me.  It’s how I approach every day here.  A few months after I started at the Lake Twp. Chamber, someone somewhere who didn’t know our community but felt they knew a lot about Chambers told me to suggest to the Board of Directors that I drop “While reflecting the values of the community” from the end of our mission.

I told them to pound salt.  (In a nice way, of course)

Because they were missing the best part of our Lake Township community.  Our values–and our commitment to them.  Seven years later, I’m so incredibly proud of staying true to this area–that is not my hometown, but has become my “home away from home.”  The connections we have been able to make together as a business community over the last 7 years I have been here and the 18 prior to that have built an incredible foundation for our future success.  

At every event, I’m always so amazed that people thank me–because it’s all them–being who they are that make this work, and grow, and thrive.  I’m just blessed to be a part of making the connections that build on our foundations of those who sat at a table 25 years ago and thought what a great impact we could make by working together instead of going it alone.

our values

So, to all of our members and supporters, thank you.  Our theme for our 25th Anniversary this past year
has been “Together We are ONE Chamber, ONE Community.”

Truer words were never spoken.

 

-Christa Kozy